At least Steelers have character

One building. Two football teams. Two very different approaches.<br><br> Take the latest saga of Lost Quarterbacks that played out this week for the Pitt Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

On one half of the South Side football practice facility, the Steelers seemingly smirk at taking the extraordinary measures necessary in order to procure an outstanding quarterback talent such as Drew Henson.

On the other side of the building, the Panthers rail at an entire generation of male athlete because they didn't get their way, or their high school quarterback, Anthony Morelli.

"The word commitment is really a word that needs to be redefined in the teenagers' vocabulary," Pitt Coach Walt Harris said after Morelli and three other recruits changed their minds, or their verbal agreements, and accepted offers from other schools Wednesday.

This from a guy who entertained offers to coach at other schools, while under contract, the past few years. And maybe we ought to ask Harris' ex-wife what she thinks about his definition of the word commitment.

And for what? A quarterback with a first-time score of 610 on his SAT? One who hasn't been able to lead a football factory such as Penn Hills to a WPIAL championship game? Who's considered overrated by everyone but the draft gurus who sell the kid's name?

Or is this about Anthony Johnson? This is the running back who transferred high schools AFTER a hazing incident came to light. His old high school promptly won the WPIAL title without him.

Or is it for a couple of Floridians who'd rather play at South Florida and Wake Forest? Whew, they must be really, really good, mustn't they?

Pitt turned over every rock to bring name players into the fold and ended up getting burned. They didn't seek out character and are now left scratching their heads.

"It's difficult for a young man, 17, 18 years old, and a family, especially in a single-parent family," whined Harris. "The poor moms do not know how to handle the negativity, and I wouldn't expect them to, either. We try to take the high road in recruiting ... but other people don't."

Why couldn't Harris, that good-looking rogue, simply charm the single moms? Oh, yeah, it's the other people who hurt him.

Harris is a bum, plain and simple, and Pitt should be blamed for hanging on to him as long as it has. Harris proved last season that he can't win games at an elite level. He's also proven over the years that he couldn't fill a thimble with character. And as for these lost recruits, were any of them linemen? Of course not.

Lack of character isn't the problem on the other half of the building. But do the Steelers lack brains?

We can commend them for not bowing to the wishes of a quarterback who wants to play the system his own way. The Steelers do things that they perceive to be the right way, and Henson, even though he admitted to wanting to wear black and gold, has done things the wrong way on his circuitous path to becoming an NFL quarterback.

One of the first qualities the Steelers scout these days is a player's love of the game. So how can they justify chasing Henson, a guy who left college a year early to play baseball?

That's the Steelers' way, whether we like it or not. But what we don't have to like is the complete lack of investigative work done in scouting Henson.

When presented with potential problems to a trade, in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, director of football operations Kevin Colbert pleaded ignorance on all counts. It was proof that their stated lack of interest in trading for Henson is no smokescreen. It was also proof that they haven't been thorough.

Maybe they don't care, because they certainly tend to their football team in a predictable and what they consider a righteous manner. It's called character. The Steelers may not return to the championship level any time soon, but they certainly have character. That will keep them from bottoming out.

Pitt, on the other hand, has neither character nor a clue. Instead of developing a winning plan (linemen at least as a third priority?), they'll continue to be burned by "name" prospects. Then they'll cry to the public and rail at the injustice of a world gone sour. This approach can only lead to bottom feeding, and, frankly, no one feels sorry for them.

Steel City Insider Top Stories